The wait is finally over in Miami. After seemingly endless weeks of sitting, waiting and wishing, fantasy owners finally received the news on early Wednesday that the Marlins will promote highly-touted pitching prospect Zac Gallen to make his major-league debut against the Cardinals on Thursday. The 23-year-old righty, who was acquired in the Marcell Ozuna trade, will be taking the rotation spot of righty Pablo Lopez, who was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder strain on Wednesday. Lopez’s injury is a crushing blow for the Marlins and fantasy owners alike because he was blossoming into a potential fantasy ace in recent weeks, posting a 1.80 ERA over his last four starts to go along with a stellar 1.12 WHIP and 73/18 K/BB ratio across 76 2/3 innings this season. There is no timetable yet for Lopez’s return, but it’s worth noting that his rookie campaign was cut short by a similar season-ending shoulder injury last September.
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As the Marlins prepare to be without Lopez -- arguably their most consistent starter this season -- for an extended stretch, they’ve also had to deal with the loss of Caleb Smith and Jose Urena in recent weeks as well. Their replacements, Elieser Hernandez and Jordan Yamamoto, have been outstanding and there are plenty of reasons for optimism that Gallen will succeed as well. He failed to make the cut in Rotoworld prospect guru Chris Crawford’s Top 10 Prospects list earlier this week, but his minor-league numbers leap off the electronic page and suggest that he misses enough bats to make an immediate fantasy impact, regardless of format. Here’s an oversimplification: there will always be a wider range of outcomes and a higher degree of uncertainty when it comes to forecasting the immediate and long-term outcomes for pitching prospects. That will never change. However, Gallen profiles as a quintessential low-ceiling, high-floor, back-end rotation starter. While it’s difficult to project him evolving into an upper-echelon fantasy starter, there is an extremely high probability that he will stick at the major-league level for years to come. The fact that he relies on his natural ability to locate his four-pitch mix, rather than overpowering raw stuff, amplifies the immediate risk as he transitions to facing experienced big-league hitters. If he wasn’t stashed already, Gallen warrants a speculative pickup in all fantasy formats where he’s still available.
Scherzer Breaks Nose, Shoves Anyway
Max Scherzer didn’t let a broken nose and a black eye prevent him from striking out 10 batters over seven scoreless innings against the Phillies in the second game of a doubleheader on Wednesday. The 34-year-old throwback workhorse was virtually unhittable, surrendering only four base hits and two walks in a spectacular performance. He threw 117 pitches, including 76 for strikes. With the victory, he improved to 6-5 with a sterling 2.62 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 146/22 K/BB ratio across 106 1/3 innings of work this season. Scherzer certainly deserves a ton of credit for going out there and taking care of business less than 24 hours after suffering a significant injury on a bunting mishap during batting practice on Tuesday. However, it was his tremendous raw stuff which deserved some hyperbole as well on Wednesday night. According to a tweet from MLB.com Nationals beat writer Jamal Collier, Scherzer averaged 96.2 mph on his four-seam fastball, his highest in a game since September 2015. He also used the heater to generate an eye-popping 18 of his 24 swinging strikes. Apparently, pain only makes him angrier (and more effective). You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
Trout Torches Toronto
Every once in a while, we need a friendly reminder that Mike Trout is the undisputed best all-around player in baseball. He put on a laser show in Toronto, going 3-for-6 with two homers, including a grand slam, and seven RBI to lead the Angels to an 11-6 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday. It was the first seven-RBI game of his illustrious career. He drilled a two-run dinger off Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez in the second inning and later followed it up with a go-ahead grand slam in the fourth. Let’s be honest, the 27-year-old fantasy superstar isn’t flashy. His greatness isn’t instantly recognizable. Outside of a handful of dazzling catches at the center-field wall or the occasional tape-measure dinger, there hasn’t really been a single moment that encapsulates his immense talent to date. There are ebbs and flows with his statistical production, just like with any hitter, but it’s his day-to-day consistency in terms of approach and plate skills in tandem with an almost supernatural ability to adjust to opposing pitchers that separate him from everyone else. Those signature traits are extremely difficult to discern, unless you’re watching him every single day. Unlike on most nights, it was easy to appreciate his greatness in Toronto on Wednesday night.
Santana Goes Deep Twice, Mariners Rout Royals
Less than 24 hours after getting blown out by the Royals, the Mariners responded with an offensive explosion of their own. Domingo Santana spearheaded the charge, going 3- for-5 with a pair of homers and also matched a career-high with five RBI in the Mariners’ lopsided victory over Kansas City. It was the sixth multi-homer effort of his career and the third time he’s accomplished the feat this season. The 26-year-old outfielder drilled a three-run homer to put Seattle on the board in the first inning and later followed it up with an RBI single in the fourth and a solo homer in the sixth. He wasn’t alone in the offensive explosion as Daniel Vogelbach followed his first-inning blast with a solo tater of his own off Royals starter Brad Keller. The beefy 26-year-old first baseman also tacked on a walk and a sacrifice fly in the rout. The Mariners may be pivoting toward a rebuild, but Santana and Vogelbach aren’t going anywhere and will likely be at the epicenter of things when things inevitably turn around in Seattle.
Alzolay Arrival Imminent
The news broke late on Wednesday evening that the Cubs will call up pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay prior to Thursday’s game against the Mets. There had been rumors for several days that the 24-year-old righty was a potential option to fill-in for Kyle Hendricks, who was placed on the 10-day injured list after being diagnosed with a shoulder impingement earlier this week. Alzolay owns a sparkling 1.93 ERA and 40/3 K/BB ratio over 28 innings in his last five starts at Triple-A Iowa. Tyler Chatwood is expected to start on Thursday, but there’s a strong possibility that Alzolay will be summoned to soak up the middle innings as a bulk reliever in this one. Armed with two swing-and-miss pitches (fastball and curveball) and the ability to throw them, along with a solid changeup, for strikes, he has a chance to be successful at the highest level. He may not stick in Chicago right away, but he needs to be picked up in all deeper fantasy formats on the chance that he become a full-fledged member of their starting rotation.
AL Quick Hits: Rafael Devers was removed from Wednesday's contest against the Twins with hamstring tightness. … Royals manager Ned Yost told reporters on Wednesday that Adalberto Mondesi (groin) “feels the same” as he did on Tuesday. … Trey Mancini exited Wednesday's game against the Athletics with a left elbow contusion. … Twins placed Marwin Gonzalez on the 10-day injured list with a hamstring strain. … Yoan Moncada (back) returned to the White Sox starting lineup Wednesday night against the Cubs … Rays placed Yandy Diaz on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain. … Jose Altuve went 0-for-4 in his return from the 10-day injured list against the Reds on Wednesday. … Gary Sanchez went 2-for-4 with his 21st round-tripper of the season in the Yankees’ blowout win over the Rays. … Gleyber Torres launched his first career grand slam in that one. … Jason Kipnis homered twice and drove in four runs to lead the Indians to a win over the Rangers. … Asdrubal Cabrera went 2-for-4 with a homer in the loss. … Mookie Betts went 2-for-5 with a triple, an RBI and a walk to lead the Red Sox past the Twins. … Eduardo Rodriguez whiffed nine batters over seven innings to pick up his eighth win in that one. … Willians Astudillo collected three hits, including a solo homer, in the losing effort. …Blake Snell was lit up for six runs on two hits and four walks while recording only one out in a loss to the Yankees. … Lucas Giolito struck out nine batters but was tagged for six runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Cubs. It was the first time he’d allowed five earned runs in a start since April 6 … Rowdy Tellez homered twice and drove in four runs in the Blue Jays’ loss to the Angels. … Josh Phegley went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer in the A’s victory over the Orioles. … Chad Green will start for the Yankees on Thursday against the Astros. … Wade LeBlanc will work behind an opener for the Mariners on Thursday against the Orioles. … Nathan Eovaldi (elbow, biceps) played catch again for the third straight day on Wednesday. … Collin McHugh (elbow) will make another minor-league rehab appearance this weekend. … Sean Manaea (shoulder) is on track to begin a minor-league rehab assignment next week.
NL Quick Hits: Chris Paddack will start for the Padres on Saturday against the Pirates. … Stephen Strasburg's next start has been pushed back to Friday against the Braves. … Craig Kimbrel will make another appearance for Triple-A Iowa on Friday. … Rich Hill left Wednesday's game against the Giants after one inning due to left forearm discomfort. … Mike Moustakas (hand) was held out of the Brewers starting lineup against the Padres. … Jay Bruce returned to the Phillies starting lineup for the second game of their doubleheader against the Nationals. … Garrett Cooper was a late scratch from the Marlins lineup due to a sore left triceps. … Marlins acquired outfielder Cesar Puello from the Angels for cash considerations. The 28-year-old outfielder was designated for assignment by the Angels on Monday despite posting a .390/.500/.683 triple-slash line across 50 major-league plate appearances this season. … Christian Yelich went 3-for-5 with his major league-leading 27th homer in the Brewers’ loss to the Padres. … Franmil Reyes went 3-for-4 with a go-ahead three-run homer in that contest. … Charlie Blackmon extended his hitting streak to nine games in the Rockies’ win over the Diamondbacks. … Paul Goldschmidt was held out of the Cardinals starting lineup but came off the bench to launch a walk-off homer to edge the Marlins extra-innings … Bryan Reynolds went 3-for-4 with a go-ahead three-run blast to lift the Pirates to a comeback win over the Tigers. … Felipe Vazquez notched his 17th save in that one. … Jesse Winker reached base safely four times and delivered a walk-off single to help the Reds complete a sweep of a three-game series against the Astros. … Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson went deep in the Braves’ lopsided win over the Mets. … Willson Contreras slugged two home runs and notched five RBI in the Cubs’ victory over the White Sox. … Patrick Corbin strung together seven innings of one-run ball in the front-end of the Nationals’ doubleheader against the Phillies. … Trevor Richards whiffed eight batters over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision versus the Cardinals. … Chris Taylor homered twice to lead the Dodgers to a blowout win over the Giants. … Cody Bellinger swatted his 24th round-tripper in that one. … Marte scorched three singles to record his third consecutive three-hit performance in the Diamondbacks’ loss to the Rockies. … Braves manager Brian Snitker told reporters that Sean Newcomb (head) will throw an inning at Triple-A Gwinnett before being activated from the seven-day concussion injured list. … Julio Urias will start for the Dodgers on Thursday against the Giants.